Who’s Abroad!

News & Events from Keystone College, La Plume, PA

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Data Collection in Australia - Justin Clarke

April 15th, 2015 · No Comments

This week and last week have been dedicated to data collection for all of our different directed research projects. This meant walking a LOT of transects through the forest and getting cut up by wait-a-whiles and getting ticks and sunburn, you know, the typical field work. In the afternoons we’d either go to the center and work on our papers or go out into the field again and collect sap. The nights were spent sitting next to E. resinifera trees to see if we could observe any gliders for some of the DRs. It’s been a pretty rough week but I’ve loved all the field work even if it has meant being exhausted and being up from 6 AM to 11 PM. I’m really excited to start analyzing all of my data next week. Hopefully my hypothesis is correct. This weekend we’re headed into Cairns and a group of us are going snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of pictures to share with everyone when I get back from it!

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Justin-Researching the Birds in Australia

April 14th, 2015 · No Comments

So here’s the most recent update. We’ve hiked the second highest mountain in Australia named Mt. Bartle Frear. It was around 5200 feet high and we were up in the clouds. We couldn’t see much but it was awesome to be up in the clouds. It took about 8 hours for a round trip hiking up the mountain. We were taking our time and some of it was pretty difficult, we were basically climbing over huge boulders to follow the trail. We also went back to the Daintree where I saw my first and second Cassowary. Aside from that I’ve finished my finals here which were incredibly easy. We’ve started up our directed research projects this week. It’s been very busy between studying for finals and getting stuff together for my DR. 

I decided that I wanted to study the habitat requirements of the Yellow Bellied Glider. They are a vulnerable species in Australia and their habitat is shrinking. They use Eucalyptus resinifera as a feed tree where they eat the sap out of these trees, but they only use 1%. Part of it is that they only use solitary E. resinifera and I’m looking at why this may be the case. My hypothesis is that they’re not using the clumped ones because of intraspecific competition which is lowering the sap quality and the size of the tree because they also tend to only use trees with a DBH higher than 55cm. I’m really excited to start analyzing some data and we’ve already collected some. I can’t wait to see what I find out!!



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Kangaroos and Other Animals in Australia - Justin Clark

March 19th, 2015 · No Comments

It is going awesome here! I’m currently on mid-semester break and a few of us flew down to Brisbane and are driving back up to Cairns over the next 5 days. I definitely would love to send pictures, but my computer recently has stopped working. I’m trying to get it fixed but no luck so far. I should have a post on the SFS blog soon and I’ll let you know when I do! 

So far on our break we have seen the beach near Brisbane and drove up to this overlook that looked out over Brisbane last night. It was absolutely beautiful. Today we drove up to Mt. Tamborine and saw some glow worms. Then we made our way to Springbrook National Park where we saw another cave with glow worms. Apparently the only places you can see them is in Australia and New Zealand which is really cool. We got to Springbrook pretty late so it was dark and going into the cave was amazing. It was pitch black and the roof was speckled with little white dots. It looked like the stars on the most clear night ever. It was so amazing and there was a waterfall right in the middle of the cave with the moonlight shining right down the middle. Unfortunately, it was too dark for me to get any really good pictures. 

Some other cool things that have happened…. We went to an animal caretaker and saw a baby Agile Wallaby (which I got to hold), a Pademelon, a baby Ring-tailed Possum, and, my personal favorite, a Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo which was just absolutely beautiful. We also went to visit the Daintree, but we had to leave early because a cyclone was on its way. We’re probably going back after mid-semester break though. I’ll keep you posted on what else is going on. It’s been an amazing trip so far. 

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Justin’s Excusions to Chillagoe and Cairns

March 9th, 2015 · No Comments

It’s been a while since I sent an update. I’ve been pretty busy and haven’t really had reliable access to internet. So I think last update was the aboriginal trip. It was absolutely awesome!! I loved meeting them and seeing how they felt about the land. They really feel as though they are a part of it rather than the land being theirs to own. Very fascinating and a sentiment that I can agree with.  

We also took a trip to a place called Chillagoe on the edge of the outback. We went caving and took some hikes around the outback. That night we laid out under the stars and it was the most amazing view I’ve ever seen. The stars there were absolutely beautiful. It was the clearest sky I’ve ever seen. No trees in the way, no smog, no clouds. You could see a billion stars. You could even see the Milky Way stretching across the sky. 

After Chillagoe it was back to the center at the rainforest to get ready for homestays. I stayed with two other students and had an amazing time with the family we stayed with. It was really interesting to see how their lives center so much around the outdoors. The houses are built with HUGE verandas and sliding glass doors that open the whole house up to the outdoors.

Then we had a weekend in Cairns where a group of us went to a place called Green Island. It was absolutely awesome. We got to snorkel all day and saw some REALLY cool looking fish and coral. I also found this weird invertebrate that looks kinda like a caddisfly larvae on steroids. My professor couldn’t even identify it so we sent a picture of it in to a museum to help us identify it. The island was absolutely beautiful and we were a little disappointed when we had to leave. 

We’ve also been going to tree plantings ever day. In one weekend we planted 3200 trees which was absolutely amazing. It was actually a lot of fun too. It isn’t all fun and games here though. We do have classes. A lot of the classes are field work identifying different animals and keeping field logs. We do a lot of social economic data collecting and also some field work regarding botany. 

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Justin Clarke - Exploring and Describing the Wildlife in Australia!

February 10th, 2015 · No Comments

So just another quick update! Its been raining like crazy the past two days and we were supposed to go into town yesterday but the access road got washed out and lost power so we were stuck here. We decided to just play volleyball for six hours in the rain. Today we also learned how to use this program that is an online dichotomous key for plants which was really useful because it is so much faster than using the books.

Some of the animals we’ve seen so far, cockatoo (a lot), honeyeater, some kind of monitor looking lizard, pythons, brush turkeys, cain toads, bandicoots. There are a few others but those are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head. We also saw this really cool beetle that looked like a rhinocerous beetle and there are a ridiculous amount of cicadas here.

Tomorrow we’re going to visit an aboriginal tribe and possibly camp out with them if the weather isn’t very bad. It should be a lot of fun!

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Justin Clarke’s Post From Australia - Friday, Feb. 6, 2015

February 10th, 2015 · No Comments

So I don’t know if I’ve told you yet but I’ve started to take my classes here. I’ve got rainforest ecology with this german lady named Siggy, Environmental Policy and socioeconomics with a Kenyan-Australian named Justus, and Resource Management with and native Queenslander named Catherine. It’s interesting to see the diversity that Australia has when it comes to it’s people.


Yesterday we were divided into groups and each group went to a different town. My group went to an old mining town that was established in the 1880s and we talked to the locals about how they feel about the rainforest and conservation.

Today we took a trip to some different geological spots to see crater lakes, some VERY old volcanoes, and just investigate some of the areas that had sedimentary rock that had been forced into ancient mountain ranges by tectonic forces. It’s been pretty fun so far and I’ve learned a lot!! Can’t wait to be able to send some pictures home!

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Justin Clarke is blogging from Australia!!!

February 10th, 2015 · No Comments

So I just wanted to update you on my trip!! I got here 2 days ago and the first two days were basically just to meet everyone and to become adjusted to our new surroundings. It is really hot here. I think it’s about 80 during the day in the sun. However, it does get surprisingly cold at night and I actually had to bring out my sleeping bag because I started to get chilly.

Today was our first day of actual classes. I had a Rainforest Ecology, Rainforest Botany, and Environmental Policy and Socio-economics class this morning. All of them seem pretty interesting but I’m especially interested in the rainforest ecology class. We have a trip planned tomorrow to go into town and interview some of the locals about their perceptions of the rainforest and its continued decline.

The only animals I’ve seen so far were a bandicoot, cockatoo, and some bush turkeys but they say there are amethystine pythons that reach 5 feet long around here.

We also have plans to camp out with an aboriginal tribe from the area and also to have a two day homestay with the locals.

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Last Day in Puerto Rico by Rebekah Hasselman

May 30th, 2014 · No Comments

Unfortunately, due to heavy rain falls the rain forest, El Yunque, was closed. There was a mud slide and the roads were closed but luckily today they were able to open part of the road and we were able to see Coco Falls.  A few of us were brave and climbed to the top of the falls.

After the rain forest we started our journey to San Jaun, which is about an hour from Luquillo, where we were staying. First stop in San Jaun was the El Morro Castle. In Puerto Rico it is a tradition that families take their children to the Castle and teach them to fly kites. It is a great place to fly kites; the wind is great and catches the kites nicely.  During our castle tour we even meet a couple of the castle dwellers, green iguanas and a hermit crab.  One of the iguanas even let us get close enough to take a picture with.

This castle was designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay, and defend the Spanish colonial port city of San Juan from seaborne enemies. Part of their defense was cannon fire so, of course a trip to the castle would not be complete with a picture with cannon.

After the Castle we exploded the streets of San Jaun. Since it was Memorial Day weekend it was even more alive than usual with lots of street vendors, music, dancing, etc.  Our last stop was the fountain.

Over the last week we have experienced what traditional students have learned in the classroom.  What we have learned over the last few days will stay with us for the rest of our lives. We have formed friendships and bonds that you cannot be made in the classroom.



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Puerto Rico - Day 7 by Steven Cruz

May 27th, 2014 · No Comments

On the seventh day of Puerto Rico our plan was to go to the rainforest. It turned out that the road on the way to the rainforest was closed due to a roadblock caused by a landslide. Even though we had to cancel our trip to the rainforest there was still plenty to do. We ended up going to Luqillo Beach where the water was very warm and relaxing. After the beach. We were left to wonder around old San Juan where we came across a club called Señor Frogs. After Señor Frogs, we went to a party boat called La Rumba where we danced salsa and had a good time. The only possible downside to day seven in Puerto Rico was the sun burn at the beach (wear a lot of sun block!) But besides that I can honestly say it was one of the most fun times I’ve had in my life, being able to go out with my friends to the beach, the club, and being able to dance on a moving boat was an experience I will never forget. To me and a few others, it was personally the best day in Puerto Rico. At first I was concerned about how much fun I would have studying abroad, but I can honestly say that being in Puerto Rico with my friends studying abroad was the most fun I have ever experienced and I am glad I came.

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Puerto Rico - Day 6 by Mary Schild

May 27th, 2014 · No Comments

      Today we took a ferry to the beautiful island Culebra. Culebra, known as the forgotten island, is home to only 1,400 people. That is about the size of our campus. The island is full of beautiful beaches. Culebra which means snake got it’s name from the first mayor who’s last name was Culebra. Many of the building are from the 1800’s. In 1874, Mayor Steven was the first to get assassinated. It was after the Spanish-American war that the United States claimed Puerto Rico as part of the U.S. It was in the early 1900’s when Culebra began to colonize.

      After arriving we went to visit Mayor William Ivan Solis. It was there that we saw the code of arms. The crown on it symbolizes the character of the community. William first started out as a fire fighter eventually becoming the chief before being elected Mayor of Culebra. After visiting with him we made our way up a steep hill to the hospital. It was there that we learned how much money and time a hospital really needs. There is only one doctor, one ambulance driver and five nurses. Most people with a serious sickness or problem are flown to the main land for care. The psychologist is only there once a week alone with OBGYN. The hospital is currently fighting for more money to enhance their resources. In my opinion, from meeting the hardworking employees I think it would benefit them greatly.

      After finishing up at the hospital we went snorkeling in the ocean. It was such a great experience to meet the mayor, see the hospital and swim in the tropical ocean just in one day. While snorkeling we saw sting rays, sea urchins, star fish, turtles and coral reefs. Day 6 was by far my favorite day because of all I learned about the island and still got the chance to explore under the ocean.

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